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Old 11-10-2019, 12:27 PM   #1
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Vancouver Island Camping and visit suggestions

An offshoot from the Ferry thread.
Any suggestions as to where to stay or what to see on the Island with a 10 day planned stay would be helpful. We typically like to have one full day in a location, two if there is a lot to see, we are not really into the shopping thing, more into easy hikes, visiting historical sites, learning about the area and the folks and lifestyle of the area. Big cities max me out after a few days so a mix of city and outdoors is good.
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Old 11-10-2019, 05:16 PM   #2
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Royal B.C museum in Victoria is a must.
Goldstream park for nice hikes, salmon runs and bald eagles.
The old island highway through Qualicum beach, Ladysmith and Nanaimo.
The best German bakeries are in Nanaimo, with the best Chelsea bun bakery in Ladysmith.
Tour the docks and talk to the fishermen.
Goats on the roof in Coombs at the Old Country Market.
Cathedral Grove, for the majestic old growth trees.
Butchart Gardens in Victoria
The Malahat hwy with scenic lookouts going to Duncan. Stop in at the local First Nations Cowichan band building to watch a totem being carved, and take a tour of Duncan's totem poles.
Logging museum just outside Duncan, with amazing exibits.
Cowichan and Chemanus town murals.

The list goes on.
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A day or two in Victoria at the museum and tea at the Empress hotel; head up the Malahat to Duncan for a day; next the old island hwy and the quaint towns, murals and seasides, a stay in Nanaimo to catch your breath............
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Old 11-10-2019, 06:46 PM   #3
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If you like things a little more rustic try here. https://www.telegraphcove.ca/ It is a scenic spot with some really nice trails overlooking the Johnson Strait. It is located on the NE tip of the Island. Great salmon fishing and whale watching charters from here as well if you are there at the right time of the year.
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Old 11-10-2019, 08:03 PM   #4
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We like everything Tony lists, but would always include a trip across the island to Pacific Rim National Park. Tofino, Long Beach, and Ucluelet. Easy drive from Parksville.
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Old 11-10-2019, 09:27 PM   #5
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All excellent info that I was looking for. Any insight into how many days to stay south in Victoria, versus days in Nainamo?
We are open to taking the time to drive the island, but want to experience more than a dashboard view. But not against making a drive to see something cool.

We are people that due to heavy work requirements and age and desk sitting requirements we find out mindset is not our reality. We can certainly do 5 mile trails on relatively flat terrain. Inclines are our downfall. But are physically able to do short stints of heavy terrain, just not extended.
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Old 11-10-2019, 09:58 PM   #6
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Great info. Thanks.
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Old 11-11-2019, 02:31 AM   #7
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Tony didn't mention Salt Spring Island but we enjoyed a very nice day there. We drove and camped all the way to Port Hardy. The farther north you go the fewer the people but we really enjoyed the people we met and the peace and serenity and beautiful scenery. We also visited Port Alice and spent an entertaining couple of hours with the two wonderful Scottish ladies who ran the restaurant/clubhouse at the golf course. One of those afternoons we will never forget.
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Old 11-11-2019, 11:48 AM   #8
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Many of the suggestions are very good but
One more suggestion is try Bere point campgrounds which is totally off the grid with on Malcom island.
You take a small ferry from Port McNeill on Northern Vancouver Island and afternoon a short run arrive in Sointula. After a short drive you arrive at Bere point. Reservations should be made. There is a short walking trail to a viewing platform where if you lucky you see Whales come in and rub on the beach. I lived on many parts of Vancouver Island and this spot is a jewel.
While in Sointula try visiting the museum
Which has a lot of exhibits on Finnish settlers.cheers.
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Old 11-11-2019, 01:42 PM   #9
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We spent 10 days on Vancouver Island just this year. 5 nights at Living Forest Oceanside Campground & RV Park near Nanaimo, then 5 nights 40 minutes east of Victoria at Pedder Bay RV Resort & Marina, a beautiful local harbor with fishing boats. The 40 minute drive from Pedder Bay to Victoria is easy, and halfway there is the Hatley Park National Historic Site to break up the trip.
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Old 11-11-2019, 11:36 PM   #10
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We spoke on the ferry site and Ive been thinking as a life long resident and camper what would make a good 10 night visit to our Island.??

You definitely need minimum 2 days in Victoria. The only thing is do you need full service sites or is doing Provincial Parks an option?? Provincials will offer everything from basic water from a hand pump/pit toilets....to the bigger ones which have water taps/washrooms with showers/ dump stations and paved roads. All provincials usually have big sites with good privacy and fire pits (fire season may close them in july)...provincials dont offer any site services typically . Lots of trees so usually AC isn't a big deal in our climate. This route would be a comfortable 10 days and have access to lots of easy walks/hikes/bike riding/beaches/small towns etc

Although the Port Angeles ferry lands in the heart of downtown tourist zone, it will be difficult to park and hang out with the rig...arrive early comeback later after you set up.

Nights 1-2(3??)....arrival day plus you need 2/3 nights.

You'll probably arrive mid day from Port Angeles so I would probably look at staying at Fort Victoria RV Park for 2/3 nights min. Full service about 15-20 min from the city. Very nice park for doing the city and local area . Maybe go back and do the city waterfront /museum/tea at the empress hotel etc..etc Day 2/3 local sights ...Butchart Gardens will take a few hours.Thetis lake park is an excellent easy hike 5 min from the RV park...Also the Galloping Goose trail goes along side the RV park and you can do an awesome easy bike ride into the heart of town in 20-40 min...very flat (old railway)..lots to do around the city ...all within 5-30 min.

Option 2/ would be staying at Goldstream Provinvincial Park ...another 10 minutes north from Fort Victoria. Very nice ...Lots of trees...no site services...dump site....great walks/hike along the river.

I love Goldstream but if I wanted to see the city etc for the first time I would pick Fort Victoria for its location. After Victoria its mostly all small towns, with Nanimo being the second largest (Id skip staying there)

Night 3

Leaving Victoria You'll head thru Goldstream Provincial Park.up the Malahat Drive ..stop at the summit lookout for an amazing view of the Island. Then drive thru the ocean side village of Cowichan Bay ...with the rig try to park just north of the shops and walk back. This is about an 1 hrs drive from Goldstream. Great place to wander only a few blocks on the Bay with a marina...some great little shops..... great bakery ....some nice lunch spots. Wineries along this route too, so make a day of it. After lunch from Cow Bay you'll come out and thru Duncan heading North. Possibly consider Maple Grove RV park ....private full service lots of trees, pool etc. just before Chemanus, and only about an easy hour from Cowichan. After you set up pop into the lumber town of Chemanus ...small town with lots of wall murals etc....very popular spot to walk around for an hour or 2....only 10 min from Campground.

Night 4-5-6(7?)
Today your doing the longer drive to Tofino / Long Beach /Pacific Rim National Park

Beautiful drive up Island ...stop at Coombs Market and spend some time shopping/eating and see the goats on the roof. Then stop for a little walk in Cathedral Grove and see some amazing huge trees (rite on the side of the hi way). Thru Port Alberni then arrive late afternoon at Tofino
Stay at Crystal Cove RV park ...very nice full service on a beautiful beach...easy bike ride into Tofino......tons to do and explore here with the National Park beaches etc....extremly popular book asap!

Option 2 is staying in the National Park sites ...no services...also very popular book asap.

Night 7
Heading back possibly stop for a night at Sprout Lake Provincial Park ...huge interior lake you'll have passed on the way in to Tofino....or stay at 1 of the many privates in the area. Or maybe stay at Qualicum Falls Provincial.

Night 8-9
Next its a short day down the Island to Parksville and spend a couple nights at Rathtrevor Provincial Park... beautiful large park in the trees and on a beach with big sand bars ...reserve....you aren't far from Coombs and could do it on the way back instead . This area has lots to explore etc and puts you within about an hour of Nanimo.

Option 2 would be Pary's Rv Park on Englishman River.... pool...river swimming ...close to Rathtrevor ...full services.... family oriented....just outside the town.

From here your 10 days are ending. I would book the Ferry from Duke Point, Nanimo to Tsawwassen (Vancouver area)...once off the ferry your very short drive to the Border crossing at Blaine Washington and I-5 south.

Other favorites (I like Provincials alot)

Cowichan Lake ...close to Duncan several Forest service sites plus Provincial Parks
Elk Falls Provincial near Campbell River
Buttle Lake Provincial an hour from Elk falls
Little Qualicum provincial Parksville area
Englishman River Provincial Parksville area

Going to Cowichan Lake (not Cowichan Bay) would probably eliminate Tofino route ...same as going to Campbell River area. 10 days just isn't enough unless all you do is drive.

I think Victoria area and Tofino are the 2 must sees (plus everything in between) if coming to the Island for the first time. This will give you a great overview of some of the best the island has to offer.

Hope this helps you with some route idea and time frames. You'll be back...LOL
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Old 11-12-2019, 01:58 AM   #11
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Thank you for taking the time to create a sample itinerary.

Scott
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Old 11-12-2019, 07:43 AM   #12
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Thanks to the contributors. I’ve only been around airforums a couple of years but this gets my vote for best thread ever.
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Old 11-12-2019, 08:57 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rucos View Post
We spoke on the ferry site and Ive been thinking as a life long resident and camper what would make a good 10 night visit to our Island.??

You definitely need minimum 2 days in Victoria. The only thing is do you need full service sites or is doing Provincial Parks an option?? Provincials will offer everything from basic water from a hand pump/pit toilets....to the bigger ones which have water taps/washrooms with showers/ dump stations and paved roads. All provincials usually have big sites with good privacy and fire pits (fire season may close them in july)...provincials dont offer any site services typically . Lots of trees so usually AC isn't a big deal in our climate. This route would be a comfortable 10 days and have access to lots of easy walks/hikes/bike riding/beaches/small towns etc

Although the Port Angeles ferry lands in the heart of downtown tourist zone, it will be difficult to park and hang out with the rig...arrive early comeback later after you set up.

Nights 1-2(3??)....arrival day plus you need 2/3 nights.

You'll probably arrive mid day from Port Angeles so I would probably look at staying at Fort Victoria RV Park for 2/3 nights min. Full service about 15-20 min from the city. Very nice park for doing the city and local area . Maybe go back and do the city waterfront /museum/tea at the empress hotel etc..etc Day 2/3 local sights ...Butchart Gardens will take a few hours.Thetis lake park is an excellent easy hike 5 min from the RV park...Also the Galloping Goose trail goes along side the RV park and you can do an awesome easy bike ride into the heart of town in 20-40 min...very flat (old railway)..lots to do around the city ...all within 5-30 min.

Option 2/ would be staying at Goldstream Provinvincial Park ...another 10 minutes north from Fort Victoria. Very nice ...Lots of trees...no site services...dump site....great walks/hike along the river.

I love Goldstream but if I wanted to see the city etc for the first time I would pick Fort Victoria for its location. After Victoria its mostly all small towns, with Nanimo being the second largest (Id skip staying there)

Night 3

Leaving Victoria You'll head thru Goldstream Provincial Park.up the Malahat Drive ..stop at the summit lookout for an amazing view of the Island. Then drive thru the ocean side village of Cowichan Bay ...with the rig try to park just north of the shops and walk back. This is about an 1 hrs drive from Goldstream. Great place to wander only a few blocks on the Bay with a marina...some great little shops..... great bakery ....some nice lunch spots. Wineries along this route too, so make a day of it. After lunch from Cow Bay you'll come out and thru Duncan heading North. Possibly consider Maple Grove RV park ....private full service lots of trees, pool etc. just before Chemanus, and only about an easy hour from Cowichan. After you set up pop into the lumber town of Chemanus ...small town with lots of wall murals etc....very popular spot to walk around for an hour or 2....only 10 min from Campground.

Night 4-5-6(7?)
Today your doing the longer drive to Tofino / Long Beach /Pacific Rim National Park

Beautiful drive up Island ...stop at Coombs Market and spend some time shopping/eating and see the goats on the roof. Then stop for a little walk in Cathedral Grove and see some amazing huge trees (rite on the side of the hi way). Thru Port Alberni then arrive late afternoon at Tofino
Stay at Crystal Cove RV park ...very nice full service on a beautiful beach...easy bike ride into Tofino......tons to do and explore here with the National Park beaches etc....extremly popular book asap!

Option 2 is staying in the National Park sites ...no services...also very popular book asap.

Night 7
Heading back possibly stop for a night at Sprout Lake Provincial Park ...huge interior lake you'll have passed on the way in to Tofino....or stay at 1 of the many privates in the area. Or maybe stay at Qualicum Falls Provincial.

Night 8-9
Next its a short day down the Island to Parksville and spend a couple nights at Rathtrevor Provincial Park... beautiful large park in the trees and on a beach with big sand bars ...reserve....you aren't far from Coombs and could do it on the way back instead . This area has lots to explore etc and puts you within about an hour of Nanimo.

Option 2 would be Pary's Rv Park on Englishman River.... pool...river swimming ...close to Rathtrevor ...full services.... family oriented....just outside the town.

From here your 10 days are ending. I would book the Ferry from Duke Point, Nanimo to Tsawwassen (Vancouver area)...once off the ferry your very short drive to the Border crossing at Blaine Washington and I-5 south.

Other favorites (I like Provincials alot)

Cowichan Lake ...close to Duncan several Forest service sites plus Provincial Parks
Elk Falls Provincial near Campbell River
Buttle Lake Provincial an hour from Elk falls
Little Qualicum provincial Parksville area
Englishman River Provincial Parksville area

Going to Cowichan Lake (not Cowichan Bay) would probably eliminate Tofino route ...same as going to Campbell River area. 10 days just isn't enough unless all you do is drive.

I think Victoria area and Tofino are the 2 must sees (plus everything in between) if coming to the Island for the first time. This will give you a great overview of some of the best the island has to offer.

Hope this helps you with some route idea and time frames. You'll be back...LOL

Whoa!!! So much help, thank you for your time and thoughtfulness.



Given the stress at work for part of my family we want comfort for her to relax so are probably full hookup oriented people. However at least electric every day (30 amp service) and full hookups every 2 days after that keeps everybody happy and comfy. So it seems that a mix of Provincials and privates could be a good way to do. I do have a generator to satisfy the electric need and could bring if it makes it easier to use Provincials....interesting thought I had not considered.


We are very much interested in seeing and experiencing the region we are in, shopping (except for food) and tourist attraction type stuff is not our objective. The history, culture, daily life experience, and meeting and enjoying the people who live there is. So given your guidance thus far we will probably follow your suggestions. Extreme outdoor stuff is not as being mid to late 50's and desk sitters is not a good situation. But, the special local hole in the wall and places where the real people live is what we like.


Then to make this perfect is looking at a Ferry ride from Nanaimo into Vancouver for a day.... not my idea but I have to factor that in so everyone is happy.


It has been decided that we are coming, but it now may be in early June as there are work deadlines that eliminated the July time frame, so we come with jackets and hope my propane tanks for the heater are TC approved.


I find it very cool that you took the time to provide this information. Please pm as I would like to meet and buy you a beverage of your choice when we are in Victoria next year.
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Old 11-13-2019, 07:12 AM   #14
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Then to make this perfect is looking at a Ferry ride from Nanaimo into Vancouver for a day.... not my idea but I have to factor that in so everyone is happy.
Don't take the trailer, as it's a very expensive ferry trip. Also to take a ferry both ways would really cut into your day.

If I were planning a day trip to Vancouver from Nanaimo, I'd fly Harbour Air float plane, (hopefully an old Beaver) right into Vancouver harbour, downtown. The flight is amazing at low level, with the pilot spotting whales and flying over the Gulf Islands.Once downtown Vancouver, take Ubers where ever you want to go.
Once you are done, take a shuttle out to Horseshoe Bay and take the last ferry home to Nanaimo.

Even getting the first flight to Vancouver, (make sure you reserve ahead), it would still be a busy day travelling, but the ferry ride home would allow you to relax.

Cheers
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Old 11-13-2019, 10:08 AM   #15
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Your welcome on the info ...no problem. June will be cooler for sure and you'll need a generator for provincials .....probably full service would be easiest.
I agree with Tony on a day trip from Nanimo fly over or walk on the Horseshoe bay ferry ....it will be a busy day but its doable. You may want to spend 2 nights in Nanimo as the first ferry is 7am and the last ferry will get you in about 10:35pm
Also in the summer BC Ferries has a trailer discount for certain non prime times ....if you decide on using them ....not sure if its available in June though ...check the web site.
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Old 11-13-2019, 05:49 PM   #16
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Just a thought if you're driving the Island. Roughly halfway up on the right as you're going North, there's a smaller 'pub' called Fanny Bay Inn. We have been there several times (although not for a few years, so if it's not there anymore, someone please chime in...)

Fanny Bay had absolutely the best fresh shrimp sandwiches we've ever had. The fella at the bar told us that they'd traded a few growlers for several pounds right out of the bay that morning.
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Old 11-14-2019, 09:59 PM   #17
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Just thought I'd add that the provincial parks, most of them require reservations and you need to go to the discovery BC to do this. some of them do have first come first serve but during the summer it gets very very busy, as you can appreciate. If you're a boondocker you will find that the island is Paradise, no guns needed this is a perfectly safe environment to go off grid and Boondock throughout the island on forestry roads and forestry campsites. We've been doing it for over 20 years.
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Old 11-14-2019, 11:14 PM   #18
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Interesting posts about boondocking from you and others. Something I had not thought about. But, we have the generator and could boondock for a night or two....interesting factor for me to think about between now and January when we make reservations.
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Old 11-15-2019, 03:26 PM   #19
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You can often find quiet space to boondock at the docks close by the smaller ferry terminals, like Crofton, Thetis, Denman, Fulford, etc.

Nobody will bug you if you're quiet and respectful.

Cheers
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Old 11-15-2019, 07:56 PM   #20
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I have a sister that lives in Victoria and have been thinking of streaming up there. Thanks for all of the inputs!!
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